Pilotage plays a crucial role in the safe operation of Ports and Harbours across the globe. Safe and efficient pilotage is critical to the daily operations that take place within the Falmouth Pilotage Area and the businesses that operate within it.

What is Falmouth Pilot Services?

Falmouth Pilot Services is a service arm of Falmouth Harbour. As a Competent Harbour Authority the organisation provides pilotage for the Falmouth Pilotage Area which spans from Black Head to the Dodman including Falmouth Bay, the Carrick Roads and the River Fal.

Falmouth Pilot Services supply safe and efficient pilotage for this whole area on behalf of the many businesses and organisations that operate within it.

The service operates 24/7 and 365 days a year and can operate across the full weather range in which shipping movements can take place within the area.

The service does not have private owners or shareholders and operates as part of Falmouth Harbour as a Trust Port organisation. This means that any surplus revenue generated is earmarked for investing back into the service.

What does a pilot do?

A pilot plays a crucial role in the safe navigation of large vessels in and out of Harbour.

They are local navigation and ship handling experts who join the bridge team of a vessel where they share vital local knowledge, passage planning and ship handling experience. In many cases they will take on the physical manoeuvring or helming of the ship.

There are pilotage directions in place in Falmouth which means that vessels of certain sizes and characteristics are required by law to take a pilot depending on where they are within the area. These directions are bespoke for Falmouth and designed to enable large ships to move through the area safely.

In Falmouth, all pilots are Master Mariners, who have undergone extensive seagoing careers and are licensed to Captain the largest ships in the world. The work of a marine Pilot can be extremely challenging but also highly rewarding, fulfilling a key role in the Port and local economy.

What is the role of a pilot boat?

The pilot boat is a Falmouth Pilots only means of access to and from ships in Falmouth (unless they are alongside a berth) and it is therefore crucial that it remains not only fully operational but maintained to the highest standards.

The pilot boat must manoeuvre alongside ships where a pilot will transfer to a pilot ladder and climb onto the ship. The pilot boat must be capable of completing this task safely and in a variety of weathers, year-round, day and night.

Large ships often cause complex and powerful turbulence as they move through the water which the pilot boat must be able to safely navigate.

Therefore all dedicated pilot boats must confirm with strict licensing under the MCA’s Workboat Code, which stipulates high levels of stability, design characteristics and safety equipment.

Falmouth Pilot Services currently operate two vessels to enable 24/7 coverage, the Arrow (16m) and the LK Mitchell (15.6m).